Northern California centers seek to form ACO

Several health centers in northwestern California are applying to form an accountable care organization under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) that includes federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and primary care physicians, the North Bay Business Journal reported.

The Redwood Community Care Organization would be composed of five health centers: Petaluma Health Center, West County Health Centers, Alliance Medical Center, Clinic Ole, Coastal Health Alliance and Santa Rosa Community Health Centers. If approved, Mark Knight, a consultant for the organization, told the Business Journal that the Redwood Community Care Organization would be "if not the first [based on FQHCs] … one of a very small number."

It also would be distinct from other ACOs in that it is composed mostly of primary care providers rather than hospitals or multi-specialty groups.

The proposed ACO hopes to take advantage of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services MSSP model, which financially rewards healthcare providers who meet certain criteria. 

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers CEO Naomi Fuchs, who will serve as the ACO's CEO, told the Business Journal the structure of the proposed ACO will allow it to meet the "triple aim" goals of a better patient experience, increased savings and increased quality of care. 

"Our emphasis is on achieving that goal through improved coordinated care," she said.  "We think a lot of the excess cost is because there isn't enough coordination between hospitals, the medical homes and health centers."

More organizations are trying to take advantage of  the MSSP program. Earlier this summer FierceHealthcare reported seven of the original Pioneer ACOs told CMS they were abandoning the Pioneer program to apply to the less-risky MSSP model. The experimental Pioneer model, now in its second year, provides higher levels of shared savings but greater risk. 

To learn more:
- here's the Business Journal article